'Will not disappoint; bridge project will reach completion": AFCONS

Indian contractor for the construction of the overwater bridge linking Male', Villimale, Gulhifalhu, and Thilafushi, AFCONS company, has given 100 percent assurance that the project will proceed as scheduled. The company gave the assurance at a meeting held with Maldivian journalists in India.

In the meeting attended by 19 journalists from 16 media outlets, AFCONS gave a detailed presentation on the company's capabilities and ongoing and completed projects. The company's head briefed the journalists and answered their questions.

AFCONS said the company has experience building bridges and that the company is already involved in bridge projects. The company said it was fully confident that the work of the Thilamale Bridge would be carried out as per the schedule.

"Our company has a 100 percent track record of completing projects on time. We want to give this assurance to Maldivians, too, and get this message across," the company's Director of Operations, RVR Kishore, said.

The bridge project is scheduled to be completed over three phases. Therefore, the project has three different deadlines.

The first phase of the project is linking Male' and Villimale. AFCONS said the phase would be completed by July next year and that the bridge would be open for public use by August 15, 2023. The second phase, which connects Villimale and Gulhifalhu, will be completed by the end of 2023. The third and final phase, which would link Gulhifalhu and Thilafushi, is expected to reach completion by November 2024.

AFCON's detailed presentation included some previously released videos and drawings of the bridge design.

The China-Maldives Friendship Bridge linking Male' and Hulhumale' is one of the largest and most unique development projects undertaken in the history of the Maldives. The completion of the work on schedule and its opening for public use was a great pleasure for the people of the Maldives, especially those residing in the Greater Male' Region. It was also the most significant achievement of former President Abdulla Yameen and his government.

Chinese companies have a successful track record in bridge construction projects. However, some question whether an Indian company can do such a job to the same standard. These questions were asked by the journalists during the meeting with AFCONS.

AFCONS began its response by providing details of the company's history and its work over the years. Established in 1959 and currently the leading company in India in its sector, the company has built 150 bridges around the world. The company has experience building bridges on land, sea, and river. The company noted that it had modern facilities and a strong team of experts with years of experience under their belt.

A large team of experts and employees for the bridge work

AFCONS said over 500 of its employees are already in the Maldives for the Thilamale Bridge project, including 88 engineers. The bridge workforce will reach 1,227 by the end of the year, including 164 engineers, the company said. AFCON's engineers' team includes the most prominent engineers in the field.

The practical work of the Thilamale Bridge has already commenced. While temporary sites are being set up, over 50 percent of the geotechnical survey work has been completed. The survey is expected to reach completion by October. The construction of the temporary bridge is also about to commence.

Consultants from India and Turkey, Germany, and Australia will be involved in the bridge project. AFCONS believes the involvement of experts from different regions ensures confidence in the quality of the bridge. According to AFCONS, Thilamale Bridge will have a 120-year lifespan.

The Maldives government signed the bridge project agreement with India's AFCONS Infrastructure on August 26 last year. The bridge construction and related works and surveys and research are also carried out by AFCONS.

The bridge project is funded by the Government of India. The bridge is being built with a USD 100 million grant from India and a USD 400 million loan from India's Exim Bank. The entire project costs 7.7 billion in Maldivian currency.